Peterborough's MPs praise city businesses and question support for workers during Thomas Cook debate in Parliament

Lisa Forbes and Shailesh Vara
Lisa Forbes and Shailesh Vara
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Peterborough's MPs have praised the efforts of city businesses in supporting Thomas Cook workers who have lost their jobs and asked the Government what help will be given to help them find new employment.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara (Conservative) - whose constituency holds Thomas Cook's head office - and MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes (Labour) were speaking during a debate in the Houe of Commons this afternoon (Wednesday).

Both MPs addressed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who was taking questions and updating members about action being taken by the Government.

More than 1,000 workers at Thomas Cook in Peterborough have lost their jobs as a result of the travel giant's collapse.

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Below are the addresses made by the MPs and the responses from Mr Shapps.

Mr Vara

"The UK headquarters of Thomas Cook are based in my constituency. The collapse of the company has meant the loss of 1,200 local jobs. Our thoughts go out to all those people and to the thousands more across the UK who have been affected.

"Will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the many local organisations and companies that have come forward offering jobs to those who have been affected? The local newspaper, the Peterborough Telegraph, has been co-ordinating the activities.

"We have also seen acts of kindness. Peterborough United and Peterborough Phantoms, a local ice hockey team, are offering free tickets to those who have been affected. Does my right hon. Friend recognise that at this difficult time we need to appreciate and applaud the generosity that is coming through?"

Mr Shapps replied: "May I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friend, who has been working very hard through the last few difficult days with people from Peterborough who have found themselves without work.

"He has done tremendous work with his community to support all those who have lost their jobs. There are 630 jobcentres running the rapid response service that has been mobilised to pick up this issue for every single former Thomas Cook employee who has lost their job as a result of this appalling news.

"I should say that the best thing we can do is to make sure that we operate an economy where there is record high employment and record low unemployment, because that will give people the best opportunity to get back into a good job."

Ms Forbes

"Following the sudden collapse of Thomas Cook, which was headquartered in Peterborough, and the loss of 1,200 jobs there, many of my constituents turned up for work only to find that their jobs were lost with Christmas fast approaching.

"The hon. Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Mr Vara) is absolutely correct that there has been an incredible outpouring of unity from individuals and businesses in Peterborough who have stepped up to show their support and solidarity at an extremely difficult and distressing time for so many in Peterborough.

"Can the Secretary of State tell me what specific support the Government are giving to my constituents, who have mortgages and bills to pay and families to support, in finding alternative employment? What measures have they put in place to support the city’s economy as a whole, given the loss of so many good jobs?"

Mr Shapps replied: "The hon. Lady is absolutely right, including on the response in Peterborough, which I have been tracking closely through hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Mr Vara) and others.

"A bespoke service will be available through Jobcentre Plus, and I have spoken at length to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who is leading a cross-Government taskforce that is meeting again tomorrow afternoon to continue to work on the issues of helping people to find new jobs.

"I mentioned in my statement the additional assistance that is available through retraining, or even simple things like childcare while people go for interviews and the like. It is heartening to know that jobs are available regionally, but it would be an economic shock to any region to lose 1,000 plus jobs.

"Through the various mechanisms, particularly the rapid response service, we are determined to support all the constituents of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Lisa Forbes) and my hon. Friend the Member for North West Cambridgeshire."